VAUGHT: Overconfidence by Cats baffles Rich Brooks

A lot of things during Saturday night's 38-14 loss at Indiana baffled Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. However, nothing baffled him more than what he heard after the game.

A lot of things during Saturday night's 38-14 loss at Indiana baffled Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. However, nothing baffled him more than what he heard after the game.

At least two key UK players - quarterback Andre Woodson and running back Rafael Little - both indicated they felt the Wildcats might have been overconfident going into the game based on last year's easy win over Indiana in Lexington.

"How we can be overconfident against anybody blows my mind," Brooks said Sunday.

Don't worry, coach. You have plenty of company. Any Kentucky fan has to feel the same way and be embarrassed by the pathetic performance the Wildcats had at Indiana.

"To think we are some special team and take anybody lightly or be confident thinking this will be an easy game for us does baffle me," Brooks said. "I have an older mind than most of my players. I am more aware of the pitfalls. I obviously did not have the ability to communicate that to them."

True, but a come-from-behind win over Division I-AA Idaho State a week earlier should have been message enough to any Kentucky player that the Wildcats were far from a national powerhouse. Now one has to wonder if UK is even any better than last year's 2-9 team.

Obviously, so many injuries to key players have taken a huge toll on the Wildcats. And the hit list just keeps getting longer. Brooks said not counting players who are out because of surgeries, the Cats had 21 players unable to practice today. The list included some notable new players such as defensive end Durrell White, cornerback Antoine Huffman, offensive guard Trai Williams, safety Roger Williams, running back Draak Davis and kicker Taylor Begley.

"Physically, we are beat," Brooks said. "Obviously we are not as good as we could have been if we had not had these injuries. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out all the prominent players who did not play in the (Indiana) game would have helped, and maybe made a major difference. But we don't have the choice of looking at that wonderful vision."

Instead, Kentucky needs a miracle to save its season - and take the heat off Brooks' future - as it prepares to host Florida in a game CBS-TV will air nationally.

"I think this will be a severe test for all the things this team was talking about in the preseason and the first game or two about renewed enthusiasm, character and spirit. This is a total gut check," Brooks said in his characteristic blunt fashion. "Now we are going on CBS against Florida, who obviously is one of premier teams in the nation. We better check our hold card and see what we are made of."

That's because Brooks knows UK fans will test his team as much as Florida this week. Radio talk shows were full of speculation this morning about Brooks' future and UK likely not winning a game again this year. Some fans were even calling for president Lee Todd and athletics director Mitch Barnhart to be banished because of the football team's failure.

"I basically told them after the game that if they think being a team is important, they are going to find out how important now because whatever people were starting to think we had a chance and were believing in us were going to lose a lot of that belief because we haven't done the things that we all want to happen," Brooks said. "From a public standpoint, it's going to be very difficult. We just have to see if we can go out and regain that respect again."

Which is going to be a lot harder than anyone ever imagined it would be because of Saturday's dismal performance.

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